I’m pleased to be hosting a stop today on the blog tour for Maressa Mortimer’s new Young Adult novel Beyond the Hills.
Beyond the Hills is book 2 in the Elabi Chronicles series, and it was published on 18th June 2021. I read the opening book in the series on 8th February this year, and here is the first paragraph of my review.
This is an intriguing Young Adult novel set in a dystopian world which employs some curious combinations of futuristic technology and elements from the distant past. Gax enters the controlled, conformist society of the City of Elabi, on a mission from the free world to bring love, emotion and a spiritual vision back to the repressed people of this city state.
In the sequel, Beyond the Hills, our main protagonist is Macia, and here is the blurb:
Macia Durus, daughter of the well known Brutus Durus AMP, works hard to achieve a life of honour and prestige in her beloved Elabi. When a so-called “friend” challenges her priorities, Macia’s confusion threatens her carefully constructed plans. And her decision to investigate a forbidden book could have serious consequences for Macia as well as her family, turning their lives upside down.
In Walled City, I was particularly struck by the compelling description of life inside a repressed society. The novel is set in a dystopian future, but the society the author shows us reminded me of what I imagine life to have been like in East Berlin or indeed for some people today in North Korea. It is a society from which all emotion and religion has been stamped out. The society is run by a shadowy “council”; it values physical fitness and compliance highly but keeps all its citizens closely watched and controlled with some very sinister methods of punishment and social control, especially in regard to areas like marriage, disabilities and weakness and euthanasia. This results in a society of tense, closely watched, sullen, withdrawn, guarded, joyless people, and the author presents this very well, with some quite chilling moments.
I have met Maressa, both on and offline, and she is a lovely, bubbly, very supportive and encouraging member of our author community. She inspires us with her prolific output of books and her enthusiastic approach to life and to the whole business of being a writer. Maressa is Dutch; she grew up in the Netherlands, and moved to England soon after finishing her teaching training college. Married to Pastor Richard Mortimer, she lives in a Cotswold village with their four children. She is a homeschool mum, enjoying the time spent with the family, travelling, reading and turning life into stories. Maressa says, “I want to use my stories to show practical Christian living in a fallen world.”
Here’s a Q & A with Maressa, about her life as a writer, and how she came to start writing her series about Elabi.
1.What first drew you to write a novel?
I loved exploring character, and at the same time processing questions I had. Before I knew it, I got to 100,000 words! Home-schooling my children means that for me, sitting down to write is a time to concentrate and focus; to be in the moment.
2.When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
Yes, because the market for Christian fiction is very small in Britain. After Sapphire Beach, which was done through a hybrid publisher, I decided to self publish.
3.What kind of research have you have to undertake for this novel?
I used Roman food for Elabi, so I looked into that. Then there was paddle-boarding, so I learned about that. The factories Beyond the Hills are cotton factories, so I read a lot about old mills and the accidents that could happen.
4.Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?
There are a few passages I like, but my favourite is probably about Macia stumbling through the tunnel with the dog, with the old man singing behind her…
5.If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might have planned?
I’m writing a novel about teens, with under-earth dwellers that kidnap baby girls to combat inbreeding, as well as plotting book 3 in the Elabi Chronicles about Downstream. I’m also plotting a series about Vikings and time travelling. So lots of fun to come!
I look forward to reading Beyond the Hills and hope this has whetted your appetite to buy a copy or download onto your kindle.
Buy Beyond the Hills here.
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AUTHOR’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
AMAZON AUTHOR PROFILE: Amazon.co.uk: Maressa Mortimer: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks, Kindle